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  • Writer's pictureDinesh Shahra

Jagannath: Where Faith & Culture Meet

The Jagannath Temple of Puri is an important Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Jagannath, a form of lord Maha Vishnu , located on the eastern coast of India, at Puri in the state of Odisha. The temple was built by the Ganga dynasty king Anantavarman Chodaganga in the 12th century CE.

It is one of the four dhaams for Hindu pilgrims. Lord Vishnu in form of his Krishna avatar along with his brother Balaram in form of Sheshnaag and sister Subhadra are worshiped here in trio. Jagganath means Lord of the world and the deities signify the message of universal fraternity and kinship.

Unlike the stone and metal icons found in most Hindu temples, the image of Jagannath is made of wood and is ceremoniously replaced every twelve or nineteen years by an exact replica.

What makes the city of Puri special is that it is famous for saints like Adi Shankara Guru Nanak, Kabir, Tulsidas, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Nimbarkacharya Udiya Baba who had visited and blessed it. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu of Gaudiya Vaishnavism stayed here for 24 years, establishing that the love of God can be spread by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra.

According to historic records the temple was invaded and plundered eighteen times by Islamic rulers. In 1692, Mughal emperor Aurangzeb ordered to close the temple until he wanted to reopen it otherwise it would be demolished, the local Mughal officials who came to carry out the job were requested by the locals and the temple was merely closed. It was re-opened only after Aurangzeb’s death in 1707.

The temple is famous for its annual Ratha yatra, in which the three principal deities are pulled on huge and elaborately decorated temple cars.

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